Blast from the Past: Anatomy of a Polo

Originally published 11/12/2008 – polos never get old or go out of style!

When you read the Queensboro website, you find lots of weird words like “double needle stitched” and “placket.” Today, we solve the mystery for you, giving you the anatomy of a polo shirt. While each style of shirt is different, polo style shirts share many common traits.

Anatomy of a Polo Shirt

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Collar:
The collar is as much a defining part of the polo shirt as any other feature. The collar lies flat, but can be turned up at the back to keep the sun off the neck (this is especially important for tennis players, and the polo shirt was originally designed by a tennis player). Traditional polo shirt collars are a rib-knit; however, now some polo shirts have self-fabric colors, which are made from the same fabric/knit as the rest of the shirt.

Placket: The placket is the area of the garment where one piece fastens to another. On a polo shirt, this is below the collar, where the shirt buttons.

Buttons: Women’s style polo shirts often do not have buttons, but instead have a collar and a small v-neck. Men’s polo shirts have buttons on the right side, typically two or three (hence, a “two-button placket”).

Cuff: The end of the sleeve is known as the cuff. Some polos have rib knit cuffs, while others have self-fabric cuffs.

Tape: In fabric terms, “tape” is a narrow, woven piece of fabric. The best polo shirts have a “fully taped neck.” This strip of fabric appears on the inside of the neck, helping to maintain the structure of the shirt, while making it more comfortable by covering the seam between the collar and the shirt. It also helps to absorb perspiration. There is often tape along the inner side vents as well, to help keep the shirt from coming un-tucked.

Side Seam: Some t-shirts are “body knit,” which means that they are knit as a tube, and do not require side seams. Side seams help give polo shirts a more fitted shape.

Side vent: The side vents are at the bottom of the shirt. Usually they are taped along the hem, though sometimes they are double-needled stitched. On athletic shirts and performance shirts, there is usually a small piece of tape on the outside of the shirt at the top of the vent, which aids in keeping the shirt tucked in.

Extended Tail: You will notice that on many polo shirts, the back of the shirt is longer than the front of the shirt. This helps keep the shirt from coming un-tucked.

Hem: You will see the term “double needle stitched” used occasionally. This means that the hem is stitched with a double row of needles, and hence two rows of thread, running parallel to each other. A double needle stitched hem is less likely to unravel, and also give the shirt a more finished look.

QB COLOR FADE

A Brief Exploration of the Evolution of the Hoodie

Do you want to work out in wool, practice your tennis swing wearing a scarf, watch the sunrise on a windy beach with a ball cap that keeps flying off your head?

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Wool athletic wear: smelled pretty darn bad and took forever to dry when washed. What’s a footballer to do?

Common occurrences at the start of the 20th Century, but thanks to two American pioneers and a surprisingly progressive view on cross-dressing, we have all been blessed with the the sweatshirt and hooded sweatshirt – hoodie – to make outdoor living much more livable.

First stop, the University of Alabama. A young footballer for the Crimson Tide just so happens to be the son of a clothing manufacturer. Bennie’s father, Benjamin Russell, at the time made material in his factory used in undergarments for women and children.

Now, athletic gear of the day – this was the early 1920s – was typically made of wool. The remedy the Russells proposed was a modification of a ladies’ union-suit top from the thick cotton the factory produced. Without concern for the material origins in women’s undergarments, they created loose, collarless pullovers first for the Tide. Within a decade, Russell had created a new division of his factory just to manufacture “sweatshirts.”

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At the behest of his athlete son, Benjamin Russell invented the sweatshirt which quickly became a necessary article of athletic clothing.

And Russell was not alone in sweatshirts, but Champion took them further. A division of the Knickerbocker  Knitting Company called Champion Products, got in the game, making a breakthrough that made it easy for school letters to be printed on the fabric. It is Champion that claims the manufacture of the first hooded sweatshirts.

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Steve McQueen was the first Hollywood figure to bring the sweatshirt to the big screen.

In upstate New York, factory and lumber workers had adopted the sweatshirt as a means to keep warm during the workday. And the sweatshirt had made its way onto the sidelines as acceptable gear for coaches and staff. Looking to provide that extra bit of warmth and convenience, Champion added a simple hood to the sweatshirt design, and the hoodie was born.

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Rocky Balboa sealed the iconic fate of the hoodie forever.

First sweeping through high school and college track teams and football programs, and later catching the attention of Hollywood, the music industry and skateboard culture, the hooded sweatshirt has certainly captured the attention of American culture since its invention. It has been transformed from industrious workhorse to a popular, at times maligned, yet ubiquitous and useful garment.

Ronmug Ron Hasson is a former newspaper journalist and current Customer Service Representative at Queensboro. Since leaving newswriting, he has penned and produced five original plays for the Wilmington, N.C., stage and is active in acting and directing as well.

 

 

 

Memories of 20 Years in Wilmington

This year we celebrate 20 years in Wilmington NC, after moving from New York in February of 1995. While this beautiful riverfront city itself has grown in leaps and bounds, Queensboro has followed that same trajectory and we’re proud to celebrate!

A few fun facts about our time in Wilmington include the best statistic of all: over 10 million shirts sold! We want to put that up on a big changeable letterboard out front!

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20 years ago you could order from our catalog and get an awesome embroidered denim jacket or a Jac Sac. Who’s for bringing those back?

When we moved here in 1995 we opened with 25 employees, 3 embroidery machines, an office full of file cabinets and floppy disks (that we fed into the embroidery machines) and boxes and boxes of mailed in paper logos. Now, over 20 years later we’ve had the pleasure of employing over 900 Wilmingtonians. With a current staff of over 125 employees, each with access to a state of the art fully integrated database, our production system follows orders from the moment a customer places it to their front door at delivery. There was a time when it might take 6 to 8 weeks just to digitize a logo, now it’s possible for us to have a full order out the door in just one week. Amazing how far we’ve come!

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20 years ago you could also order a fleece from our new website. Amazingly enough the price hasn’t changed much and the quality has only gotten better!

Below are some interesting insights and memories from current employees. Our CEO Fred himself said “the best thing about Queensboro – all the great people.” We agree.

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“Mr. Buddy is the man. ” – Buddy and Omar, Production


My favorite quote is from Mr. Buddy: “I came with the building.” – Matt, Screen Printing


I think it’s fitting to share this thought.  I will have my 13 year anniversary at Queensboro in May. In my time here, we have moved locations, we took down walls, we tossed the files and created a much more open work space. We’ve lost two great employees for whom the simple mention of their name will make many of you smile. Many of us have fallen in love, fallen out of love, gotten married, gotten divorced, lost loved ones and found great joy in life, raised children, pursued further education or other dreams or made a difference in someone’s life since they began working here. That’s what I think about for my 13 years here! – Steph, HR


20 years, what a journey. I have seen so many people leave Queensboro, so many great changes. One person who has stayed and is loved by all, and also came with the building, is Buddie. What a wonderful man and employee. He taught all of us about patience, love, and caring. Told us stories about the ghosts of Queensboro, which I have personally witnessed. I haven’t heard or seen anything lately. He has taught me a whole lot about fixing machines, which I thought I would never do. We have all laughed and cried together. That’s what has made us closer as a Queensboro family. No matter where I go or what I do in the future, I will always remember Queensboro with fond memories. – Ann, Embroidery


Two weeks ago was my anniversary as well – eight years. I can recall the IT changes: we unified two different Queensboro websites into one, and since then 6 or 7 different revisions of it. We created the Storefronts 10Mb then 100Mb then 1Gb network, wired everything then wifi’d everything. When I started I believe that we were about 60 people at Queensboro, lots of paper, floppy disks, an AS400. Orders and logos via FAX were very normal and commonly used. We had no bar code readers and I believe about 7 machines in production that were down at least once a week.There were a total of 60 or 70 devices accessing the network, including phones. If you think my English is bad now* you should have met me 8 years ago. I still have the email comversations from back then and sometimes I just can’t figure out what I was trying to say. – Fabry, IT (*he’s Italian, and his English is great, actually.)


I remember the first time Jeuce took me on a tour of the building 3 1/2 years ago and we weren’t using but half of the building. It was dark and scary when you opened the doors to what is now the back hallway. Always wondered what was back there. Jeuce said that people have always heard strange noises and wondered… – Melissa, Customer Service


Some of my favorite Queensboro memories include my very first day in Production where Dalinda and Peaches took me under their wing. It was my first non-office, non-retail job and I was bewildered by the steamers for removing hoop marks and the solvy. I think I wrecked a few golf towels before I acquired the knack of not ruining the nap of the material while successfully removing the solvy. My first few months in Customer Service it seemed like every woman around me was pregnant and I was told to be careful drinking the water. One of the best things has been the continued friendship of those who found other opportunities in Wilmington and elsewhere, but remain close. The Queensboro family is large and a whole lot of fun! – Jenn, Customer Service

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Fred at our company-wide celebration. Thanks for an amazing 20 year run here in Wilmington! Here’s to 20 more.

So you think it’s easy? A Customer Service Rep spends a day on the production floor

e070In many ways, the work is all the same.

Parts are repetitive, so much so that you develop a speed that seems improbable, making best use of each second, no wasted motions, no need to think. Other parts are troubleshooting — the familiar obstacles that produce the same bumps in the road every day. You know how to deal with this, just a hiccup from the normal flow. Other parts of the work make you stop and think. What order should this go in? How many of which go where?

Working in customer service, wired to a computer, fielding phone calls and emails — my tasks can nonetheless be described just like those in production — repetitive, troubleshooting and challenging. This familiarity did not make my visit to the production floor any easier. In fact, the experience was a lot like that first time driving on the interstate: You think you have the basics down, and you’ve watched a few cars go by on the on-ramp, but you don’t get the full effect until you hit the gas and join the traffic.

It’s hard not to be impressed by sewing machines, the first mini-factories that popped out of hidden compartments beneath inconspicuous tables. Then to see their distant relations blown up to industrial proportions with robotic arms of all sizes dancing to the noisy hum and clatter, I was impressed. In a factory, everything is there for a reason and is, at least in that way, “customized” to the job. Here was no different, every table and work station arranged around the sewing machines for maximum effect.

Taking a closer look at the different work stations, I saw the stand that is used to hoop hats before they are embroidered, and I had to chirp. It was a custom-made piece of furniture, sawed and sanded to serve as a perfect mount for the unwieldy jaws of the hat hoops. There were plastic cups filled with fasteners and clips serving alongside the high-tech machines. But everything had its place, and its purpose, and holding it all together, the most fluid of the moving parts on the floor — were the production teams.

The people created these systems, made the machines work. Make the machines work. Divided into “pods”, production workers are roving problem solvers and facilitators, each person committed to keeping the line moving and the products perfect. During my visit, I was struck by the way everyone had their own, very efficient way of folding a shirt, taping a box, loading a machine… each task requiring a measure of repetition, troubleshooting and problem solving. But aside from appreciating the complexity and the efficiency, I was pretty much lost.

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I got the feeling that all my ridiculous fumbling was providing them with plenty of amusement. And nothing makes me want to try harder than fear of failure. So I tried it all, agonizing over the tasks they seemed to master effortlessly.

Trying to give me a taste of the action, Veeda, Peaches, Linda and Jeff were patient with a very nervous pupil. I got the feeling that all my ridiculous fumbling was providing them with plenty of amusement. And nothing makes me want to try harder than fear of failure. So I tried it all, agonizing over the tasks they seemed to master effortlessly. No, I can’t really see where that thread ended and the other began. No, I really don’t know how to make that sit straight on the machine. No, I’m not at all comfortable with pulling this stray thread out of the embroidery.

After an hour or so, I forgot about the machines entirely. Like the orders coming in, the machines just presented more tasks. Routine start-up and mounting of garments, starting with the delivery from the warehouse to the hoopers and the embroiderers was obviously the practiced dance — it went fast. Then came the everyday, or rather, every hour tasks of changing a bobitt or adjusting thread colors within an order. They slowed down a little to show me the steps, even let me thread the machine and program the run. It was clear that I was the weakest link.

It became clear by the end of my shift that there is no automation for 90 percent of what must go on with each order. The embroidery machines are amazing, but they just sit there when there’s no one to tend to them. To be efficient and successful, the production workers are constantly jumping from job to job. Everyone shares the burden of the work — keeping the Queensboro engine running and making our customers happy.

RonmugRon Hasson is a former newspaper journalist and current Customer Service Representative at Queensboro. Since leaving newswriting, he has penned and produced five original plays for the Wilmington, N.C., stage and is active in acting and directing as well.

 

QB COLOR FADE